Coal Mines and Bridges
Jul 25, 2010
|Friday night we had an enjoyable stay at the campground located adjacent to the Beckley Exhibition Coal Mine. This coal mine is a very realistic look at coal mining and provides some educational displays, including rebuilt living quarters (such as the Miner’s Shanty – a one room tiny house for miners whose families lived elsewhere), a typical coal company house (for miners with family), the church, the school, and (of course) a tour into the mine 1500 feet below ground. The coal company house was bigger than Clyde so it appeared pretty spacious to us, but I suppose raising a family in one of those homes would be a bit of a challenge.
From there we headed over to the New River Gorge Bridge. Now, as you may know, I don’t much like driving over bridges. However, Willis and I decided that we would drive towards the bridge and at least take a look at it, but not necessarily drive over it. As I steered Clyde down the road we saw a sign that read,“New River Gorge Bridge Visitor Center - 1 Mile” so I thought, “Great! A place to stop and look at the bridge, then we can turn around and go the other way!” There were also orange signs warning of construction ahead… hmmm, I wonder where we will encounter that?
I was merrily driving along when all of the sudden Willis says, “There it is, you are about to drive over the bridge.” Well let me tell you, I veered over to the edge of the road so fast and sudden that poor little Blayde fell over into the pillows on the bed! The Visitor Center is on the OTHER side of the bridge… oh great!
Willis valiantly took my place behind the wheel of Clyde (a very rare occurrence) while I climbed into our bed (eyes closed) and tried to pretend that we were only a few feet over the river rather than suspended 876 feet above the river. This bridge is 3,030 feet long so I had to pretend for much longer than I preferred to.
Despite the construction on the bridge (yes, that is where the construction was… thus we only had one lane on the bridge – the outside lane – for Willis to navigate us across) we did make it to the other side safely, my heart rate eventually returned to normal, and we can now say we crossed the New River Gorge Bridge – the highest vehicular bridge in the Americas, and the fifth highest in the world!
Interestingly, Blayde loved going over the bridge! When I retreated to the back of Clyde, climbing into bed in preparation for the plunge to our certain deaths, Blayde ran to the front, took the empty passenger seat and stood up on his little legs looking out the window the entire drive across the bridge (or at least so Willis tells me – remember, I had my eyes closed pretending we were not 876 feet in the air).
The visitors’ center at the end of the “bridge ride” had ample parking, was informative, and was a very welcome stop. (By the way, once at the visitor’s center, I saw that I wasn’t the only one there grateful to be on solid ground again.)
What a day… informative, exciting, scenic… I guess that what this lifestyle is all about!